SU Ag Center and USDA held a listening session with the community on Diet-Related Health Disparities

Baton Rouge, La. – The Southern University Ag Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) co-hosted the Building a Healthy Community Together listening session on Jan. 31, 2023 with residents and leaders of the Baton Rouge community.


The goal of the event, which was held at the Maurice A. Edmond Arena Multi-Purpose Building, was to obtain input from the community to ensure that the USDA’s science-based solutions are impactful and relevant to the communities they serve on the topics of nutrition and diet-related chronic diseases.


“At USDA we are passionate about learning more about the tools and support communities need to increase access to healthy, safe and affordable food,” said USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young. “Hearing about lived experiences from diverse communities is integral to our efforts as we work together with partners like Southern University to retool the way our society approaches healthy eating.” 


“Nutrition is one of the core values of the Cooperative Extension Program at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center and our 1890 Center of Excellence for Nutrition, Health, Wellness, and Quality of Life has a mission of contributing to solutions to improve the health and well-being of underserved and minority populations,” said Dr. Orlando F. McMeans, Chancellor of the Southern University Ag Center and Dean of the College of Ag. “Our partnership with the USDA enables the Ag Centers staff to go into communities and schools to teach nutrition and wellness and we are glad to be able to bring the members of our community together to discuss their needs with us and the USDA,” he added.


Participants also were able to interact with USDA and Southern Ag Center staff during a share fair, which provided information on nutrition programs, healthy eating advice, and community programs.


The Building a Healthy Community Together session was the first in a series of listening sessions hosted by USDA as part of its Agricultural Science Center of Excellence for Nutrition and Diet for Better Health (ASCEND for Better Health) community engagement focus area.


ASCEND for Better Health is a virtual science center that aims to accelerate research on diet-related chronic diseases and translate that research into impactful solutions that improve public health. This initiative supports


President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot effort and advances the goals outlined in the Biden-Harris Administration National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.


For additional information on ASCEND for Better Health please visit


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